PM in­sists gov’t strong, calls SYRIZA two-faced

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

With pres­sure from in­ter­na­tional cred­i­tors and on the do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal front ris­ing, Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras yes­ter­day in­sisted that Greece is on track with its eco­nomic re­forms and that his gov­ern­ment will not suf­fer losses in Euro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions in May.

His as­sur­ances came against a back­ground of spec­u­la­tion that troika en­voys will not re­turn to Athens next week as ex­pected due to the lack of progress with pend­ing struc­tural re­forms pledged by Athens in re­turn for con­tin­ued res­cue fund­ing.

The list of pend­ing re­forms is ex­pected to dom­i­nate talks to­day be­tween Sa­ma­ras and his coali­tion part­ner Evan­ge­los Venize­los.

Ris­ing po­lit­i­cal ten­sions, cor­rup­tion scan­dals and other do­mes­tic prob­lems are also likely to be dis­cussed.

At a press brief­ing for for­eign cor­re­spon­dents yes­ter­day, Sa­ma­ras fielded ques­tions on do­mes­tic up­heaval and in­sisted his gov­ern­ment was tough enough to en­dure up­com­ing polls. “The pro-Euro­pean par­ties will do very well in the elec­tions and my party will do well,” Sa­ma­ras said, not­ing that the first pos­i­tive signs of his gov­ern­ment’s re­forms will be tan­gi­ble by the May polls. Asked if he could en­vis­age a co­op­er­a­tion be­tween con­ser­va­tive New Democ­racy and left­ist op­po­si­tion SYRIZA as part of a grand coali­tion if nec­es­sary, Sa­ma­ras ruled out such an even­tu­al­ity, de­scrib­ing SYRIZA as an “out-and-out anti-Euro­pean party” and ac­cus­ing it of hav­ing a “schizophrenic” ap­proach to pol­icy. “It says one thing about the euro when abroad and another when ad­dress­ing Greek cit­i­zens,” he said.

The PM’s com­ments came amid fresh ten­sions be­tween ND and SYRIZA af­ter the for­mer sug­gested that the left­ists have ties to ter­ror­ism fol­low­ing the dis­ap­pear­ance of con­victed Novem­ber 17 mem­ber Christodou­los Xeros, who ab­sconded while on fur­lough. The row prompted up­heaval within the left­ist ranks, with out­spo­ken MP Pet­ros Tat­sopou­los con­ced­ing that some of his peers may share ideals es­poused by left­ist guer­rilla groups.

Af­ter a meet­ing yes­ter­day with party leader Alexis Tsipras, Tat­sopou­los was dis­missed from SYRIZA’s par­lia­men­tary group. In a let­ter to Par­lia­ment Pres­i­dent Evan­ge­los Meimer­akis, he an­nounced that he would stand as an in­de­pen­dent, re­duc­ing SYRIZA’s pres­ence in the House from 71 to 72.

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